Friday, February 18, 2011

Gary Ridgeway Back in Seattle

Lines on maps.  So much in life is determined by lines on maps.  In 2003, lines on a map allowed a man who had killed dozens to avoid being executed for his crimes.  At the same time, the plea deal Ridgeway's attorneys were able to work out with King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng spared the families of Ridgeway's victims both the pain of an extended trial and the unending distress of not knowing the fate of their loved one with any degree of certainty.  The result of the plea deal and the lines of King County on the map have kept Ridgeway alive (though he doesn't look so good).photo

Because Ridgeway's habit of picking up and frequently murdering prostitutes along the Sea-Tac strip just south of Seattle took place in King County, he has been able to plead guilty and avoid execution.

This week Ridgeway was in King County Court to plead guilty to his forty-ninth murder - that of Becky Marrero in 1982.  He received the required life without parole sentence as set out in the plea agreement.  As he told the court in his original trial, "I killed so many women, I have a hard time keeping them straight." 

I know that it is not a small number of people who feel as I do, hoping that at some point police will be able to make a case against Ridgeway in a jurisdiction across the King County line. 

Low Testosterone - Serious Health and Mortality Risk


As we learn more about the health effects that are associated with low testosterone (defined as less than 300 nanograms per deciliter of blood), it is apparent that the impacts upon the health of most men range from being asymptomatic, to serious health conditions such as congestive heart failure, or cumulative and serious vision impairments. 

It is not clear yet, whether the low levels of testosterone in the blood are causing these issues, or whether they are effects of other health problems.  I tend to agree with the hypothesis that low and ultra-low testosterone are causative , and left untreated, can cause serious disease processes. 

In men of a certain age such as I (over 40), to an elderly man, low testosterone can result in fatigue, moodiness, depression, inefficient use of nutrients along with other issues.  It is important to use a blood test to check on testosterone levels in any cases where a man has developed symptoms.  Important enough that it can carry the weight of a life or death decision.  Men with ultra low testosterone are just over 40% more likely to have a heart attack than men who have levels at, or well above the  normal level.

The discovery of a blood testosterone level that is far below normal can also be a tipoff that the endocrine system is generally having problems.  In my own case, the onset of Ankylosing Spondylitis (I wouldn't know that I had AS until nearly eight years later), both because it is the result of my immune system attacking healthy joints and connective tissue, and because it causes inflammation throughout the body, occurred at the same time, I began feeling a deep fatigue.  This fatigue was not only feeling "tired". but was an indicator that something in my body was failing.  I am fortunate to have a primary care physician named Warren Fein, a man who is not only very good at his job, but is an excellent listener.  When he heard my description of the fatigue, he immediately checked for blood thyroid levels, and when they were low (well below the minimum threshold), he prescribed a synthetic thyroid replacement, then followed up to see if my fatigue had abated.  It had not, and this caused us to set out on a mission to find the rest of  the problems, if any, with my endocrine system. 

In my case, not only had my thyroid been affected, but I also had low vitamin D levels, low testosterone, elevated cortisol, low human growth hormone, etc.  In other words, we learned that there were so many areas of the endocrine system that were out of whack, both Dr. Fein and I believed that something was causing the pituitary system to fail.  Even after beginning testosterone replacement therapy following an evaluation with Dr. Davies ( a top-notch endocrinologist), my blood levels continued to decline - at one point I had only 70 nanograms per deciliter of blood.  finally, with larger doses every other week, we were able to get the testosterone level up to just over 300. 

I encourage men over 40 to read up on the issue and if you are experiencing some symptoms which could be related to low T, discuss it with your doctor. You might just be saving your own life.

Low Testosterone Symptoms, Health Effects, and Testosterone Replacement

A Cry for Innocence - the WM3

Beginning with the viewing of "Paradise Lost", the HBO documentary film which detailed the murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, as well as the arrest and trial of three teens in relation to the crimes.  The whole subject is sad and sickening.  The killings themselves, and the subsequent arrest and conviction of three other young men that I simply don't see a single piece of evidence - not one, not even the "confession" of one of the young men - that indicates guilt. 

This link is to the CBS News special examining the case, as well as new information in the case.  It's worth watching.  I can also recommend the definitive resource on the case, this website:

The documentary can be found at:

CBS News presentation on the WM3, as well as new evidence

Now just one more comment about this case:  Not only do I believe that these three young men did not commit the crimes, but I am truly frightened by the fact that a man could be sent to death row without a single bit of evidence.  If it can happen to him...

I hope you'll watch the video, check out the website, and truthfully, I hope that some of you will offer your support in whatever way you can (I have chosen to post this blog entry where thirty-five thousand readers will have the chance to access information and perhaps start down the road of becoming informed, a road that I can only believe to end at new trials and acquittals.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cairo Teen Finds Looted Pharaoh Akhenaton Statue

Thank heavens they've returned at least one looted ancient treasure to the Museum.  Hard to imagine laying your hands on a statue more than 3,000 years old, ripping it from its' base in the national museum, and then throwing it like garbage into a trash bin.

I wonder what would have become of the statue had not the 14 year old nephew of a professor found it and brought it to his uncle, who then made sure it was returned to the museum.

I have been struck still and silent many times in my life, when I stood in a place where history I knew had occurred.  I can't imagine taking a priceless and irreplaceable statue like this. 

I know people are starving, but I can't see that destroying or trashing this rare statue in a rare style will feed a single soul.

Cairo Teen Finds Looted Pharaoh Akhenaton Statue#

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Biggest Solar Flare In Years Headed For Earth « CBS Los Angeles

Maybe this is the first in the series that is supposed to cause the end of the world in December 2012?  If you haven't heard that theory, the 10-15,000 year solar flare maximum intensity cycle will supposedly cause massive damage and trigger the disastrous end to the world.  Of course, that assumes that the conclusion of the Mayan Long Count calendar leads to more than simply a new era, and the solar flares lead to more than some electrical grid and communications problems. 

Biggest Solar Flare In Years Headed For Earth « CBS Los Angeles

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Monday, February 14, 2011

This Cracked Me Up

Matt Rosemeir's Edible Dirt comic often cracks me up, and this comic is no exception. 


Suicide by Cop

I may be showing some insensitivity here, and if so, I am sorry.  It is not my intent.  Suicide is always hard on the people left behind, and I in no way wish to minimize the grief that friends and family are feeling.

In a study of 707 officer involved shootings between 1998 and 2006, conducted and published by Dr. Kris Mohandie, thirty-six percent of the incidents were incidents where the shooting was precipitated purposefully in order to force police officers to kill a person.  But the person who wants the officer to shoot them because they wish to die, but cannot kill themselves is not the only victim in such situations.  They put officers lives in danger, innocent bystanders lives in danger and with certainty they cause a great deal of emotional turmoil for the officers involved.

This morning Lakewood Police officers were dispatched to a domestic dispute.  When they arrived, a woman with a knife in her hand emerged from the mobile home she shared with a domestic partner neighbors say she often fought with.  Shouting for officers to shoot her, the woman pointed and waived the knife, but the officers held their fire.  The woman then ran back into the trailer home and shortly afterward, returned with a gun.  She continued to shout at the officers to shoot her, but it was not until she raised the gun and pointed it at officers, that they fired.  Three officers fired, and thankfully, the only person their bullets struck was the woman with the gun.

I admit that my first sympathy when I heard of this case was toward the officers who were put in this position.  It is a cruel and thoughtless act to force a police officer to shoot a person, and thereafter subject them to emotional turmoil.  I was especially saddened that this act was forced upon three Lakewood Officers.  As I see it, they have been subjected to so much.

I just want to say that though I am sorry that the woman who chose to end her life was successful, I am especially sorry that three of Lakewood's police officers will have to deal with this as well. 

I have not forgotten the special burden Lakewood officers still carry, and I hope that these three officers will not be further burdened.  And I am damn glad that in forcing police officers to shoot her, this woman did not cause any innocent bystanders or police officers to be hurt or worse.

Thank you for your service.  I have not forgotten the sacrifice this department has made to protect the people of their community.

Sad News

Amidst the heavy economic, social justice, political and even basic survival problems to be found in Egypt today, I noted with sadness an inventory of stolen artifacts from the Egyptian Museum.  Dr. Zahi Hawass mentioned the sad news of theft (others have called the same events 'light-looting', which I might find humorous under other circumstances (Guard: "What are you doing here?" Looter: "Just a little light looting.  Really, it's nothing worth interrupting your marching!  I'll just take this item and get out of your hair!")  Except that the loss of items like those on the list published by Dr. Hawass last night isn't funny.  Victorious Armies and Revolutions have always been hard on museum pieces - especially gilded ones.  Damn shame.

The losses, as reported to Dr. Hawass by museum staff, are not insignificant.  And knowing of Hawass' well-known impatience with both suffering fools, and with anything which interferes with the preservation and restoration of the precious items he and his minions and colleagues collect.

The Army seems to be doing some collecting itself just now, though just what it is amassing is far more ephemeral:  Power.  By the end of the day today, generals tightened their grasp on power:  suspending the constitution, dissolving Parliament.  After all, the Parliament was the group elected in corrupt elections managed my former President Mubarak, would not the people be encouraged by the military rulers depriving the Parliament Mubarak had, after all, brought to power under cloudy, even shady elections.    Even as the council of generals responsible for ousting Mubarak after the weird, street shell game atmosphere which followed the former President's confused and rambling speech, the protestors seemed to view the intercession of the Armed Forces as a positive act; a first step to whatever the jumbled masses saw as democratic self-government.

Today, however, there may be reason for these same people becoming more subdued last night and today, as the military took steps to consolidate power and, though the requests were very politely communicated, the men in Army uniforms (not the hated police) began telling protestors to go home, to work, and not so much to the banks.  I am sure that as the bubbling Artesian well of joy at ousting former President Mubarak slowed to a trickle it must have occurred to at least some of the protestors that the generals who seized power from Hosni Mubarak were also men who had been promoted and assigned to their powerful positions by....indeed, by the former President of Egypt.  The 'military council' seemed to indicate neither any plan for the "free and fair" elections most of the protestors felt they'd been promised.

Indeed, one may interpret the actions of the military council as a shot across the bow of those of any group that expected an interim government led by civilians, or of any group that expected free and fair elections soon, or even in a future time (such as the six month transitional period expected to end with elections).  Instead, with the constitution suspended and the council of generals in charge, it was made clear that  any necessary governing issues would be dealt with as necessary by the issuance of decrees. 

We'll have to watch for the next steps, along with the world.  But, at least the military council edicts will be coming from a comfortable, well-known source:  Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi, one of Mubarak's closest associates, leading the council of generals who achieved their prominence under the former President.  So, while the Parliament and constitution which had skewed power toward Mubarak, and even the cabinet has lost power, the military leadership will rule for an undetermined time, without constitution, civilian leadership or a time frame for elections.

And although it sounds like a scenario we would be quick to reject, I hope that we do not.  The military is the only stable and moderate institution in Egypt.  It is not a bad thing at this point to have the Armed Forces work to allow, facilitate and give time to put down roots other alternative organizations.  Otherwise, I fear the Muslim Brotherhood will be over-represented simply by virtue of being well organized and well funded.

Dr,  Zahi Hawass

The Independent

The Guardian

The Washington Post


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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
As always, the photos we use are either my own, or in the public domain. Please let me know if there are any errors and I'll correct them immediately.